Why Are These Women So Determined To Remove Andrew Cuomo’s Name?

Shelly Moore never met Andrew M. Cuomo. She has never lived in New York. Before the pandemic, she hadn’t even heard of him. “God’s honest truth,” she said, by phone last week in Jonesboro, Ga.

But after Mr. Cuomo, the former governor of New York, resign in disgrace last summer in the face of a harsh sexual harassment reportMs. Moore was so disgusted that she went online, plugged in her credit card information, and gave Cuomo $100 – then did it twice more.

“I am 60 years old. I’m a woman,” said Ms. Moore, a retired trainer for the Federal Aviation Administration. “I know harassment from flirting or whatever.”

More than 700 miles away, outside Fort Worth, Texas, Virginia Hagan, a retired federal banker, expressed deep alarm about what it means to bypass “the due process” to save money. the lightning trial, even if she wasn’t sure about Mr. Cuomo’s innocence.

“The truth takes time to work out,” she said, explaining the $1,200 she contributed to his campaign, which is still running despite Mr. Cuomo’s resignation.

And in New York, where Mr. Cuomo has gripped power for more than a decade, Amanda Ames of Potsdam, a town in the North Country region of the state, said she started earning $5 a month because she wanted him to. Cuomo ran again, even as the incumbent president. “He expects perfection and it can be too much for people to handle,” she said.

Five months after Mr. Cuomo left office in disgrace, a band of ardent supporters armed with checkbooks and active social media accounts – mostly women – is holding a rally. war that most New Yorkers have long ignored.

Of the more than 230 people who have collectively donated $31,000 to Cuomo’s campaign since he announced his resignation, three in four have been women, according to a New York Times analysis of filings. public election.

Online, they have rallied together in Facebook groups and on Twitter in a tireless campaign to bolster his legal team and cloud his accusers. Some hold regular Zoom meetings; others sell Cuomo-related merchandise (t-shirts featuring the word “supposedly,” among other items).

Many were impressed by Mr. Cuomo’s daily briefings in the early days of the coronavirus, and by how he calmly filled the leadership vacuum coming from Washington. Now, they have spoken out in his defense, out of a sense of admiration, injustice and, more broadly, concern that the #MeToo movement has gone too far.

“We seem to be on a pendulum in this country where we have gone from distrusting women to trusting all women,” Ms. Hagan said.

While they may be the outliers, they are also members of an important section of the Democratic base – educated, middle-aged women – whose loyalty can boost Mr. Cuomo if he tries to run for re-election, at a time when his delegates and most voters in New York turned his back.

“Especially women, the media diminishes us, they come out and call us fangirls. They come out and call us Cuomosexuals,” said Sandy Behan, an advertising and marketing executive and woman from Rochester, NY, who helps lead We Decide New York, Inc., one of the Cuomo advocacy groups. biggest, said. “While in reality we’re smart people, people with strong opinions about something, watching the news, judging everything.”

There is some disagreement about the exact size of the battalion. The prevalence of bots or unauthenticated accounts on many social media platforms makes it difficult to count the amount. Twitter data and interviews with some highly engaged Cuomo supporters suggest that the number of active participants can run into the hundreds, although a much smaller set of accounts generates a lot of content.

Mostly, they carried Cuomo flags, raised funds for his campaign and directed the outrage of their followers at his accusers, the media, and Letitia James, the New York attorney general, who investigated Mr. Cuomo. Some traffic in stubborn, sexualization and threaten characteristics of the complainant.

The cohort’s presence was easily felt on social media, as it came within hours of The Times reaching out to more than 30 donors for comment last week. .

“Warning #CuomoArmy!” a woman posted. Another accused the reporters of predatory behavior, comparing Cuomo supporters’ requests for comment on public donations to “calling old ladies and calling their Social Security number them,” or sexual harassment. Another woman posted a screenshot showing her making a new donation to Mr. Cuomo in return.

Mr. Cuomo’s team and many leaders of the online movement say they are not coordinated. Some of the women actively defending Mr. Cuomo said any hint of payouts or defensive strategy meetings would undermine their credibility.

“In a way, we are called fake bots or paid assistants,” Anna Vavare, a former social worker and psychologist in Ontario, Canada who runs social media for We Decide New York, Inc. “Someone suggested that we’re all Rich Azzopardi,” she added, referring to the political agent, who served as Cuomo’s spokesman as governor. . “I strongly oppose that. I don’t want to be him.”

But there is a clear feedback loop with internet support. Many of the accounts – some with names like “Italian for Cuomo” and “Unreported Cuomo News” – seem to cling to every word of Mr. Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, repeating the words of Mr. The argument she presented in the sparsely viewed public briefings that challenge the credibility of key whistleblowers or Miss James. And after reporters began contacting Cuomo sponsors, causing some women tweet about it, Mr. Azzopardi has reached out to find out what reporters are working on.

Azzopardi later said: “There are many who see right through AG’s fake report and appreciate the governor’s decades of service to the people of New York, as well as his leadership during the time. Covid. “We appreciate their continued support and thank them for their friendship.”

Ms. James has repeatedly sided with her report. In a statement comparing Mr. Cuomo to former President Donald J. Trump, her office accused him of “promoting a campaign of bullying, harassment and spreading misinformation online in order to maintain the version’ Your big lie’.”

The origin of some of the high-traffic groups and accounts remains a mystery. The organizers of We Decide New York, Inc., said they have reached out to the owner of Justice for Cuomo, a Twitter account with over 900 followers and website compiled a series of information related to the governor’s case, but respondents declined to be identified. No one responded when The Times contacted the site. Mr Azzopardi denied any involvement.

A spokesman for Ms James also shared dozens of posts on Twitter and noted that several accounts used stock photos as their profile pictures, and their tweets focused almost exclusively on Mr. Cuomo, raising questions about their authenticity.

An attorney for Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant who Cuomo’s accusations of sexual harassmentsaid some of the posts constituted cyberbullying to “re-adjust and retrain” her clients, and that other women have continued.

Attorney Debra Katz said: “If his supporters are angry because he is no longer in office, then they only blame him. “He abused his power, sexually harassed women, was arrested and resigned. End of story. ”

Dozens of interviews with women active in the Cuomo community — one man, contacted by phone, hinting he gave because of his wife — largely begins with a similar story. Although these women knew very little about him prior to March 2020, they formed deep connections with him. Mr. Cuomo in the darkest months of the Covid crisis.

But they only found each other in the spring of 2021, when several one-time aides accused Cuomo of unwelcome touching, inappropriate comments, sexual harassment and in a school setting. suitable is groping.

Mrs. James’s hired investigators – including one former US attorney who was involved in the prosecution of one of Cuomo’s close friends – found these allegations credible and unearthed more details that led to the governor’s resignation. One next New York State Council report strengthens Mrs. James’s finding, even though local prosecutors have refuse press charges In some cases.

As the media covered the toxic and utter bullying work environment, many of Cuomo’s supporters saw something different – it could be a plot to get rid of him, political old filth or attempt to rob voters of their chance to vote – and start organizing.

“What concerns me is not the report itself, but the way she presents it as a violation of federal and state law and,” said Ms. Hagan, 67, who is also a moderator. unequivocally that he sexually harassed 11 women,” said Hagan, 67, who is also moderator of the Women’s Facebook group for Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Dianne Butcher, a high school government teacher in Mission, Texas, who has raised two $50s for Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, said she fully recognizes his flaws. But she says they pale in comparison to his record, especially for viewers from places where messages from political leaders are more difficult to understand.

“During the Great Depression, the woman of the family stood in the kitchen at 5:30 a.m. looking at four slices of bologna to figure out how to feed a family,” she says. “In March 2020, it was me.

“What I think is that if I can take what Cuomo is saying and scale it down to our microsphere, then we can survive this,” she said. “And we did. I can say we are one of the few families in the Rio Grande Valley that have not lost a parent or grandparent to Covid. ”

Then there are people like Miss Ames, 37, who is deeply involved in the social network Cuomo – she once created a Twitter account for his dog, the Captain – and believes that no accusations against him are believable.

In her view, the entire episode is fueled by a “cancellation culture” and opportunistic political enemies. It eventually pushed her out of the Democratic Party.

Ms Behan, who is planning her next steps ahead of an election this fall, said she has noticed another sentiment growing through the network.

“People wanted to hear from him,” she said. “What are you going to do? To run or not to run?”

Kitty Bennett Contributing research, and Katie Glueck contribution report. Why Are These Women So Determined To Remove Andrew Cuomo’s Name?

Fry Electronics Team

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